Monday, September 10, 2012

I think you have a vocation!- a guest post by the Byzantine Bandit

(Note: This post is from my personal experience and is not meant to represent the thoughts of anyone except me. B.B.)

Here's a post that's probably been a while in coming. As a complement to the post I did on how to encourage vocations earlier (there's another, more complete one forthcoming, probably), this one will cover how NOT to do it.

First and foremost, I would say, ought to be saying "You might have a vocation!" or things like that. EVERYONE has a vocation. Marriage is a vocation, contrary to popular belief. So is the single life. At least qualify it ("You might have a vocation to the ________!"). Yeah. No pointing out that people have vocations.

Next, and possibly most importantly, make sure you know the guy before you say anything. Remember, this is a guy writing this, so I can only speak for myself and presumably for other guys, but something tells me that girls wouldn't appreciate some random stranger telling them to become nuns either. Of course, if you're just going around telling every guy you meet to go to the seminary, that's different and can be quite amusing. But if you're seriously telling someone you just met to go to the seminary, >:( I mean, if one of my friends told me to consider it, that'd be different.

Next, don't assume that just because someone knows a bit of theology, he's going to be a priest. One of the things I love about Franciscan is that there, being a theology major does not equate to priestly or religious discernment in people's minds. So the next time someone demonstrates that he has a clue about theology, don't automatically cart him off to the seminary. It's annoying and, personally, I feel that it's counterintuitive.

Now, I'd like to mention that this past weekend I was asked what I planned to do with the degree I'd presumably earn in theology and catechetics. That was different. I recommend asking questions of that sort, especially if you don't know the guy. Phrasing it that way is a good idea. Thank you to the deacon's wife who asked.

Furthermore, listing all the struggles associated with being a priest is probably unnecessary. Unless you're a priest, it really doesn't seem to me that your opinion is going to be taken seriously. I won't. And I don't remember ever hearing a priest talk about his life only in terms of struggle. Every time I remember a priest generalizing about the struggles inherent in the life, he also included an affirmation of the goodness of said life. So there.

Finally (as far as this post goes), on being told that a guy's discerning priesthood (or that anyone's discerning religious life, I suppose), DON'T, and I repeat DON'T, put him on a pedestal. The fact is, it's uncomfortable and kind of annoying. Honestly, I'm not sure which is worse: being discouraged from pursuing priesthood, or being worshiped for it. The guy discerning priesthood is just that: a guy. So no worshiping. Thanks.

(Note from priest's wife- the Byzantine Bandit is a student at Franciscan University- famous for all its fine religious vocations. The Bandit is Ruthenian Byzantine Catholic, a jurisdiction which is reluctant to ordain married men...lots to think about, B.B.!)


  1. This post was very helpful to me, so thank you. As a member of Serra International, we pray for vocations and also pray for seminarians, priests, religious and do what we can to support our individual 'seminarian prayer partner' with encouragement, cards for their birthday, Christmas etc (including at least a little monetary gift), inviting them to occasional social gatherings, attending ordinations, etc. Your reminder of how guys feel most comfortable being treated, "as just a guy" and not on a pedestal really struck me for some reason. Thank you for this insight.

    1. Serra International is a great organization.

      I think priests miss out a bit on 'guy' relationships and really benefit from clean fun with other men like sports, fishing, the occasional movie

  2. I have a wonderful book titled "Party of One" by Beth M. Knobbe. (Her website: It's written for those who are single (like me). There's a chapter on the religious vocation.

    One of my friends from college is in seminary. When he first told me about he was discerning the priesthood after we gotten to know each other as classmates, I was struck by his statement since it's not something you hear often! Fast forward to now...we're still friends and he's expressed his gratitude for all the prayerful support during his time in seminary. :)

  3. Love this post. And best of luck in pursuing your degree, to its completion! I, especially, like the closing paragraph. I explained to my friend, last night, I wasn't leaving off to the seminar already; and, there was a long process, given my situation.


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